A GIFT I WAS DELIGHTED TO GIVE
My name is Brenda and I work as a care worker in the community for the NHS. I am married with three of a family. In my pass time one of my hobbies is running which I enjoy at least twice a week.
Life was normal for our family until October 2019, when my youngest brother Brian who was 34 years of age, was suddenly sent to A&E, by his GP, with kidney failure with a function of 12. Brian was admitted to hospital and was eventually started on dialysis which continued for 3 days a week. His consultant told him, almost immediately that he would need a kidney transplant and he should give the information leaflets, which he had received, to family and friends.
Without any hesitation myself and our five other siblings along with six of Brian’s friends made our appointments to have a blood test done in the renal department of the Ulster Hospital Dundonald. This was to determine if there were any matches and if there weren’t any matches Brian would have to be placed on to the waiting list for a kidney which could have meant a few years if he was lucky.
It was of course a shock to find out that my brother was so poorly and was in need of a kidney transplant. And I am ashamed to say that, for me, these sort of things only ever happened on “ER” or “Casualty”.
I was contacted in January 2020 by Erin, who became my donor co-ordinator. She informed me that I was a perfect match and asked if I was still willing to donate. I didn’t have to think twice about it. I cried with relief for Brian. He was going to get better and wouldn’t have to rely on a machine three times a week to keep him alive and he could have his life back again.
People in general were in awe of me doing this and wished me all the best although a small few I think found it hard to understand why I would put myself under such a high-risk operation. To be honest the only thing I thought of was that I had something that I didn’t need and my youngest brother desperately needed to keep him alive and there was no way in this world would I have ever denied him this.
I opted for the one-day assessment rather than having my tests done over a few days. These tests were done in the BCH. I met my Erin for the first time and it was great to finally meet her. She really was such a great support and guide through it all, she was always able to answer any questions and queries I had and believe me, I had lots. I had numerous blood tests and scans done that day and I was finally told after a few weeks that I was in perfect health and it would be my left kidney which I would be donating.
My husband, two sons and my daughter were a great support to both Brian and myself. They simply understood what I needed to do to save their uncle. Never once did I feel nervous or have second thoughts, my aim was to get Brian better and that we were in exceptionally good hands and had every faith in the renal consultants and their team at the BCH.
Brian and I both attended a meeting with a counsellor to talk to both of us together to go over exactly what would happen before and after the transplant and also to see how we were coping mentally etc. Over time we also met our surgeons and consultants. They really are in my eyes, ‘’our angels’’.
Now with all that behind us we only had to wait on a date. We were aiming for end of March 2020. However, Covid-19 put it all on hold.
Eventually on the 1st of September 2020, “transplant day” arrived. It all went according to plan, the surgeons and their team and were very pleased with procedure.
I had to spend a few nights in the hospital after the procedure, I was then able to go home where I could fully recover. After 3-4 weeks I was able to go out walking/running, 6 weeks post operation I completed my first 5k run, I was delighted with myself.
It has now been 8 months since the transplant, I am now in training in preparation for a half marathon to raise money and awareness for NIKPA. Brian is doing so well and if I’m totally honest I do get a little emotional at times when I see how well he’s doing. I feel so lucky and privileged that I was able to help my brother and give him his life back again.